Syria: Die from the stabs of despair

October 24 2013 Text: Ali Safar English translation: Neil Betteridge (from Jasim Mohamed’s Swedish version)

1
Yesterday evening I wrote a short poem about a mortar shell and hoped that it would fly off to neverwhere. When the big features of life are a hell, I have no choice but to talk about the small details, the small things. They might still have meaning in the midst of all this hell.

Speaking to a shell, working out reasonable ways to die or praising the losses in order to accept them, has become a daily mechanical ritual when I pass all these roadblocks. I re-learn how to make the best of my time. And it is becoming harder to listen to the bus drivers’ tales of Damascene suburbs, about what’s left in them. And while we wait in traffic jams, a pyramid rises in my mind. At its base, the details are propagating layer upon layer, while the tip tries to pierce my skull and it hurts.

2
During eid al-fitr, Damascus is a gloomy, dispirited place with a sallow, somewhat dark face. I show it its reflection in a mirror. Damascus screams at me: Can you not see the cracks in my heart?

3
The Al-zuhour quarter. A moment ago there were some children playing outside on a swing in the belief that that brief hiatus in the fighting was an eid present. They swung up and never returned. Their souls continued to climb higher and higher. What kind of eid is this?

4
I’m looking for a piano piece by Rachmaninov so that I can cry. I imagine that it can help to expel the demons from my head, help them to find safe places free from thoughts of love, sun and wind. There is only one piano piece by Rachmaninov in a long polar winter and one weep with tears that solidify into sharp stalactites that fall and bury themselves in the body of life.

Piano music, darkness and blood. I want to know what the music means. 

5
What would happen if you wept alone at the end of the night: would you be able to give the children as much joy as a downpour?

6
I propose a new definition of fear: a hole in the brain, between the mundanely self-evident and the imagination. A hole in the area where the details are pulverised beyond recognition.

And this is also the case for the ulcerated skin of the imagination. It is the bottom of a staircase where people see nothing but feral human beasts, and the higher one climbs, the more savage the beasts, the more terrifying the tales one hears.